Now that school has started, it feels like I have both more and less time to get things done. On the plus side, I have the hours of approximately 7:30 to 2:30 to run errands, clean and enjoy a few cups of coffee. On the down side, those hours from 2:30 till dinner are a wee bit crazy with homework, play practice for Faith (which ends in September thankfully), and potentially swim team starting soon.
I've done freezer cooking many times before, so psyched myself up for some cooking and hit the grocery store. Unlike some of the blogs I've read on freezer cooking, I don't go in shopping with recipes in mind. I go see what meat is on sale first, then work from there. Our commissary has a big markdown section for meat, so I stocked up there, knowing I would freeze it all anyhow.
And then I got to work. I came home with a 4 pack of ground beef, 2 packs of 6 large chicken breasts, pork ribs, 2 packs of pork strips, and beef strips. I also had plenty of ham and leftover BBQ chicken saved.
For veggies, I had the obvious onions, carrots, mixed frozen veggies, and I had broccoli and cauliflower from our Bountiful Baskets. I always have tons of garlic, most spices, and one of our neighbors who is getting ready to move shared a ton of marinades and rubs with us.
And this is why I love the internet. I was able to use a combo of my own recipes, recipes from Don't Worry, Dinner's In the Freezer, and ones from websites to come up with 14 freezer meals. My preference, this time, was ones that could be put frozen right into the crockpot with minimal to no prep on the day of. Since we do steamed rice a lot, I'm fine with ones that still need sides, and I was hoping for ones that didn't involve a ton of pre-cooking. I wanted simple meals that everyone in my house is going to eat, so that's what I ended up with!
So what do we have?
Two pans of breakfast casseroles - Layer the bottom of a foil pan with about half a bag of shredded hash browns, half a package of diced ham, and a good handful of shredded cheese. Beat 6 eggs with some milk and seasonings, pour over the hash browns, cover and freeze. To serve, defrost and cook at 350 for about a half an hour or so until the eggs are set.
Two pans of simple beef enchiladas - This is one of our favorite recipes for enchiladas. It's not exceptionally traditional, but it's easy, and if you layer it as a casserole, it's really quick to make. To serve, defrost and cook at 350 till the cheese is bubbling on top.
One barbecue pizza - One of my concoctions, with prepped pizza crust, BBQ sauce in lieu of marinara and topped with leftover pulled chicken or pork, cheese, and onions if you like them. Defrost, cook like a pizza.
One stuffed cheeseburger bread - Another one of my concoctions. Hollow out a loaf of Italian bread (save the insides for breadcrumbs), sauté ground beef, drain, add ketchup, mustard and shredded cheese to it, mix well and stuff into the hollowed out bread. To serve, defrost, and bake at 350, wrapped in foil so the top won't burn, till heated through. We like this with soup.
One bag of salsa chicken for the crockpot - Combine 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 cup of mild salsa, 1 packet of taco seasoning in a freezer bag and add 3-4 chicken breasts (I do 3). Freeze. To serve, take out of the bag, place in crockpot, and cook on low for 8 hours. Towards the end, add 1/2 cup sour cream. Shred and serve over rice, with tortillas, etc.
One bag of brown sugar chicken for the crockpot - Combine 1 cup brown sugar, 2/3 cup vinegar, 3 heaping spoonfuls of garlic, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, and a pinch of black pepper. Place in a freezer bag with 3-4 chicken breasts. Freeze with a note on the bag that says "Add 1/4 cup Sprite to crockpot." To serve, take out of the bag, place in crockpot, add the Sprite, and cook on low all day long.
One bag Korean pork strips - I used this recipe from Food.com and my pork strips were already sliced. Place all the marinade ingredients into a freezer bag, add the pork strips and freeze. Once again, take out of the bag, place in crockpot, and cook on low all day long.
One bag of teriyaki pork ribs - I found this site on Pinterest and adapted a few of her recipes. She recommends teriyaki pork chops, but I had ribs, so ribs it is. Same marinade, same procedure, same cook on low all day. :)
One bag beef burritos - The same site had a beef burrito recipe as well that sounded really yummy, so I made that two, but used chunks of beef instead of one large piece. Again, it's what I found on sale. It's another cook on low all day recipe, and we'll probably have it in tortillas. I also took out the chipotle pepper, that won't end well around here.
One bag Hawaiian chicken - Same site again, I feel that you can't go wrong with a chicken recipe that includes pineapple. I did 3 chicken breasts again, they were the larger ones, so 3 for the four of us is plenty. And once again, freeze, remove from bag, crockpot on low, food.
One bag honey-garlic chicken - I've made this before and apparently, it's a popular way to cook chicken since this site had it too. Combine 3 Tbsp garlic, 1/4 cup honey, 2/3 cup ketchup, 1/3 cup soy sauce into a freezer bag. Add chicken breasts, freeze. To serve, crockpot on low all day long (out of the freezer bag of course).
One bag orange pork stir fry - I sort of combined a bunch of things to make--orange stir fry sauce, mandarin oranges, pork strips, onion, garlic, some broccoli and cauliflower, carrots, etc, all in one bag, freeze, thaw, then sauté until the pork is cooked. I may add some more frozen veggies at a later date.
But I'm happy, 14 ready-to-go meals, many of which are require little to no effort on my part to serve. It's not like we don't always have steamed rice around the house! I think I'll do this again in a few weeks, or at least the next time I stock up on meats. I've spent quite a bit of time admiring the top shelf of my freezer!